Yesterday I turned 75. No fanfare. Just a quiet day at home enjoying my retirement family: D, Smudge and Marie. Plus telephone conversations with our two children. And a walk outside with D in cold, windy weather.
At this age there aren’t many things I want for myself. Nonetheless, during a conversation with a friend earlier this week I identified something I’ve wanted all my life.
When I was 15 years old Mrs. Hanks, my piano teacher from when I was 9, asked about my plans after high school graduation.
‘I’m thinking about going to Bible college.’
‘Have you ever thought about going to a music conservatory and majoring in piano?’
Fear gripped my heart. I would love to do this! Yet I had no confidence in myself beyond what I’d already done, and no vision for what this might mean for me.
Mrs. Hanks said she had a friend teaching in the best music program in the state of Georgia. In fact, she’d already spoken with her, and this woman would be delighted to meet me and talk with me about scholarship possibilities.
When I told my parents about this, my father said he thought I would be better ready for life if I enrolled in a Bible college in South Carolina. Some of my friends had already studied there, and he was certain I would get a good education there.
I felt torn between fear and excitement about the unknown, and my desperate need not to fail. I also knew I would make it at the Bible college. So I chose the Bible college.
Many times I’ve looked back at that decision and wondered what might have been. Music has always been where my heart feels most at home.
Thankfully, beginning with the Bible college, music has always been part of my life. Sometimes for pay; sometimes as a volunteer. Even when I was a professor and dean at the seminary, music informed everything I did. It made its way into my thought processes, the way I said or wrote things, my imagination about this world, and about this huge universe presided over by the Greatest Musician of All.
Now I’m 75. My fingers and reflexes aren’t what they used to be. Even so, I long to recover some of the freedom I used to have at the keyboard.
Even more important, my mother wanted me to become a musician. Not a famous musician, but the musician she already heard in me at age 5 when she began teaching me to play the piano.
So a few days ago I contacted a musician friend and asked her to recommend a piano coach for me. Someone who can help me, at this age, to regain some of what the years have taken. My happy birthday gift to myself. And maybe for my mother.
Right now I’m a 75-year old kid who can’t wait to open a present I’ve wanted for too many years!
Thanks for listening,
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 November 2018
Photo found at birthdaycakeformom.com